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July 1, 2004

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Toray in $3-billion deal to supply carbon fiber composites to Boeing

Toray Industries, Inc. (Tokyo) has been selected by Boeing Inc. (Chicago) to be the exclusive supplier of carbon fiber composite materials to be used in the primary structural elements of the B7E7 Dreamliner, a next-generation medium-size aircraft scheduled to enter service in 2008. Toray is to supply carbon fiber composite materials to Boeing from 2004 through 2021.

Toray will provide Boeing with carbon fiber prepreg, a sheet made from epoxy resin pregnated in carbon fiber. The deal is valued at $3 billion. The contract assumes that Boeing will make 1,500 7E7s. This figure will increase still further if other composite materials get approval from Boeing.

The B7E7 Dreamliner is being described as an "all-composite airplane." Based on the "point-to-point" carrier concept, which allows an airplane to offer passengers nonstop travel between destinations, the B7E7 is now undergoing development toward the goals of improved fuel efficiency and extended flight range via weight reduction.

Energy saving from a lighter fuselage is the most important factor, and the fuselage of the B7E7 is expected to make extensive use of lightweight, strong, and highly durable advanced composite materials. Toray''s TORAYCA prepreg, which is a combination of high-strength carbon fiber and toughened epoxy resin, has been used for the primary structural areas of the B777 empennage and floor beams. Boeing has selected Toray''s advanced composite materials for almost all primary structural parts of the B7E7, including wing and fuselage.

Prior to winning the deal, Toray decided to expand production facilities for PAN-based carbon fiber and prepreg in the U.S. by the beginning of 2006 to meet expected requirements from Boeing. Toray Carbon Fibers America, Inc. (CFA; Decatur, AL) will build a new production facility for PAN precursor, a raw material of carbon fiber, double the size of its production facility for carbon fiber, and double its production facility for prepreg.

In France, Toray has invested about ¥8 billion ($72.6 million) to increase production capacity of carbon fiber at its affiliate SOFICAR (Abidos), at the same time increasing production capacity for PAN precursor at its Ehime plant, with the intention of capturing the growing demand for carbon fiber products globally. Both the new facilities are scheduled to come on stream in October 2004.

Toray''s annual production capacity of PAN-based carbon fiber (tonnes/yr)

 

Current  

Oct. 2004   

Early 2006  

Japan (Ehime plant)  

4,700   

4,700

4,700

France (SOFICAR)

800

2,600

2,600

U.S. (CFA)

1,800

1,800

3,600

Group Total

7,300

9,100   

10,900

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